In a competitive housing market with low inventory, one tactic that some homebuyers use is the submission of ‘love letters’ alongside their bids. These letters often contain personal stories, emotional appeals and even family photos aimed at swaying the seller’s decision. While this might seem harmless or even a positive way to make a bid stand out, there are significant reasons why you as a seller might want to avoid accepting buyers’ love letters.
Understanding fair housing laws
Buyers’ love letters may unintentionally lead to violations of fair housing laws. Such laws are meant to prevent discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. When sellers receive personal information about buyers, the seller may unconsciously make decisions based on these protected characteristics, even if the seller didn’t intend to discriminate. If that type of unintended discrimination occurs, it can still lead to considerable legal issues for the seller.
Maintaining objectivity in the sale process
Another reason to discourage love letters is to maintain objectivity in the sale process. The focus should be on the tangible aspects of the bid, such as the offer price, financial qualifications and the terms of the sale. It is entirely understandable to want your property to go to someone you like and trust. Just be aware of the potential legal and financial ramifications of selling on the basis of the buyer’s personal attributes rather than the strength of the bid.
For more on the many legal issues involved in residential real estate sales and purchases, please see our overview of real estate law in Georgia.